He signed with Mariners in '04; now he's leading Nicaragua in Classic

October 4th, 2022

Dwight Britton has been playing pro baseball for a long time.

The 35-year-old Nicaraguan signed with the Mariners way back in 2004 when he was just 16 -- hailing from the heavenly looking Corn Islands off the country's east coast. The outfielder moved around over the next half-decade -- playing on Seattle-affiliated Venezuelan summer league teams, in the Appalachian league and taking nearly 100 at-bats at the Class A level. Here he is talking about his love of country music and Will Smith because, well, "he looked just like me."

Britton also got into one game for the Double-A Diamond Jaxx in 2010 -- his highest level in the U.S. -- where he put on pretty great first impression.

But then, for some reason, he was sent back down. After that season ended, he returned home.

Britton has since played in pro leagues in Nicaragua and represented his country in international play -- including during three World Baseball Classic qualifiers. He was 2-for-8 in the 2013 Classic and then slashed at a .364/.462/.635 line with three doubles and three runs in 2016. Still, Team Nicaragua didn't make it out of the qualifier either time.

Nicaraguan great and former World Baseball Classic national team manager Dennis Martinez

Facing elimination against the underdog Argentina in the 2022 Classic qualifier on Tuesday afternoon, Britton was, of course, in the lineup again. And with the game tied at 5 in the seventh inning, the veteran calmly and coolly shot a base hit up the middle to drive home the eventual game-winning run.

"I'm just trying to do my best to help my team win," Britton said postgame.

The semifinal was a very back-and-forth affair -- tied up three different times -- until Britton's decisive hit. Nicaragua is a team that, even before the qualifier started, most thought were one of the favorites to make it out. The Central American nation took a rough hit in the first round against Brazil on Saturday -- getting beat, 4-1, mostly by the brothers Lopes.

But they've since bounced back to mercy-rule Pakistan, defeat Argentina and, on Wednesday, they'll try to beat the loser of Tuesday's Panama vs. Brazil game (8 p.m. Panama Local/9 p.m. ET) to advance.

Britton, who's been playing ball for nearly 20 seasons up and down the two American continents, has enjoyed every second of his opportunities at the Classics. But he definitely wants to be playing next spring.

"For me, it's been great to be here all these times," Britton said. "It feels great to represent my country and help them win. We've done a good job so far, but I hope we can keep it going."